Great Gift: Easy-Rockin’ Rider

Build this re­al­is­tic rocker from oak and ply­wood, and then turn a child loose on the road to ad­ven­ture.


Help your young­sters feel the wind in their faces on this sporty rocker.

Whether you’re a par­ent, grand­par­ent, aunt, or un­cle, you’ll love build­ing this rock­ing cy­cle al­most as much as watch­ing the lit­tle young­ster in your life tak­ing it for a spin.

Start with the wheels

You’ll make the wheels/tires by lam­i­nat­ing ply­wood. Be­cause ply­wood thick­nesses can vary by maker, there could be sub­tle dif­fer­ences be­tween our plan and your bike. So make the wheels first, and then ad­just mea­sure­ments as in­di­cated for cer­tain parts of the bike to match the wheel thick­ness.

1 Cut birch ply­wood blanks for3the wheel as­sem­blies (A–C): eight at ∕4×10×10", and six at 1∕4×91∕2×91∕2". Mark the cen­ter­point of each blank.

2 Lay out the three di­am­e­ters and spokes for the rims (A) [Rim Grid­ded Pat­tern page 67, Draw­ing 1]. Drill a 3∕8" hole at the cen­ter­point of all blanks. Cre­ate a band­saw cir­cle-cut­ting jig by cut­ting a piece of 3∕4" ply­wood to a size slightly smaller than your band­saw’s table. Cut the spac­ers (B) to shape [Pho­tos A and B]. Re­peat the process for the rims and side­walls (A, C), cre­at­ing a sec­ond pivot point on the jig for these larger parts.

3 The in­ner di­am­e­ters can­not be cut at the band­saw be­cause there is no en­try/exit point. In­stead, make an off­set pivot base [Photo C] for your plunge router to make these in­ner cutouts [Photo D]. (We used a 1∕4" up­cut spi­ral bit.) Rout all the spac­ers (B) first be­cause they can be cut in one pass. Then do the side­walls (C), but make the cut in pro­gres­sively deeper passes to avoid break­ing the bit.

4 The rims (A) re­quire an ex­tra step be­cause of the spokes. Be­fore rout­ing, drill 3∕8" holes where the spokes join the in­ner tire di­am­e­ter, and 1∕4" holes where the spokes meet the hub. Then “con­nect the dots” with a router and jigsaw [Pho­tos E and F].

5 File and sand smooth all edges on each wheel part. Rout 1∕8" cham­fers along the spokes and the in­ner hub of the rims (A), but not the outer or in­ner di­am­e­ters of the tire [Draw­ing 1].

6 Glue each wheel assem­bly to­gether, start­ing with the cen­ter parts and work­ing out­ward, stag­ger­ing the spokes 45° from each other. After the glue dries, cham­fer the in­ner di­am­e­ters of the side­walls (C), and

round over the outer di­am­e­ters. Fin­ish-sand as needed.

Now make the frame

1 Make two an­gle-mark­ing tem­plates to use in lay­ing out the frames (D), start­ing with 1∕4×4×15" blanks of any stock. Cut one of the blanks with a 75° an­gle at one end and 130° at the other. Make the sec­ond blank with 110° and 120° an­gles. La­bel each an­gle for easy ref­er­ence as you lay out the frame.

2 Cut two 3∕4×10×19" ply­wood blanks for the frames (D), and se­cure to­gether with dou­ble-faced tape. Us­ing the di­men­sions and an­gles on Draw­ing 2, lay out the frames, cut them to shape [Pho­tos G–J], and rout the 3∕16" and 1∕2" round-overs.

Add the seat and mo­tor

1 Re­trieve a wheel assem­bly and mea­sure its thick­ness. Cut the tank top (E), front/ backs (F), and seat (G) to size [Draw­ing 3, Ma­te­ri­als List], us­ing the wheel thick­ness as the part width. Bevel the ends. (The roundovers come later.)

2 Glue the tank parts and seat to one of the frames (D) [Photo K].

3 Lam­i­nate white oak to make the block (H) the same thick­ness as the wheel as­sem­blies, and then cut it to shape [Block Grid­ded Pat­tern]. Rout 1∕8" round-overs along the top and bot­tom edges. The front edges get 1∕2" round-overs, and the back edges 3∕4" [Draw­ing 4].

4 Cut the cover (I), large fins (J), and small fins (K) to size [Draw­ing 4].

5 Rab­bet all the fins, and then glue them into sep­a­rate as­sem­blies [Photo L]. When dry, sand a 1∕2" ra­dius on the cor­ners of the fins and cover. Rout a 1∕4" round-over on the mo­tor-cover edges.

6 Fas­ten the fin assem­bly (I–K) to the block (H) [Photo M], and then glue the block to one frame (D) [Photo N].

7 From a 1" white oak dowel [Skill Builder, page 67], cut four axle spac­ers (M). Drill a cen­tered 3∕8" hole through each. Cut two 53∕4"long sec­tions of 3∕8" white oak dowel for the axles (N).

8 Insert an axle through the back-wheel hub, slip an axle spacer onto the axle, and glue it all to the frame with the axle ex­tend­ing 1∕4" be­yond the frame. Add an­other spacer, then glue the re­main­ing frame to the block (H) as well. Clamp and al­low to dry.

9 Rout a 1∕2" round-over along the frame’s top edges. Sand a 3∕4" round-over along the rear of the seat, and a 1" round-over at the rear of the tank [Draw­ing 3]. Cut the clutch cov­ers (L) to size and shape [Draw­ing 4a], sand them smooth, and glue them to the block.

Give it some steer­ing

1 Cut the forks (O) to size [Ex­ploded View]. Drill the axle holes, and round the edges.

2 Lam­i­nate two pieces of 1∕2" ply­wood for the han­dle­bar (P) [Han­dle­bar Grid­ded Pat­tern], and lay it out. Drill the coun­ter­bores and pi­lot holes, and then cut to shape. Rout the round-overs and sand smooth.

holes, and then cut to shape. Rout the roundovers and sand smooth.

3 Glue the front wheel be­tween the forks with the axle and spac­ers in place [Ex­ploded View]. Next, glue the as­sem­bled fork to the frame assem­bly, leav­ing 2" of length ex­tend­ing above the tank. Drill coun­ter­sunk pi­lot holes di­ag­o­nally through the fork, and drive screws into the frame. (These will be cov­ered by the head­light panel [Q].) Screw the han­dle­bar to the fork, and cover the screw­heads with wood plugs.

4 Cut the head­light panel (Q) and head­lights (R) to size and sand smooth [Ex­ploded View]. Glue the head­lights to the panel, and then glue the panel to the forks and han­dle­bar.

Fi­nally, get to rock­ing

1 Lay out the rock­ers (S) us­ing the Rocker Grid­ded Pat­tern. Stack-cut and edge-sand the rock­ers at the same time to en­sure iden­ti­cal shapes. Next, cut to size the tire sup­ports (T) and plat­forms (U) [Ex­ploded View], and round over the edges. Glue and screw the plat­forms to the tops of the rock­ers; leave the sup­ports off for now.

2 Cut the mo­tor stand (V) to size [Draw­ing 4b], and lay out its lo­ca­tion on the plat­forms [Photo O]. Drill the coun­ter­sunk pi­lot holes in the plat­forms and stand; round over the stand’s edges. Glue and screw the stand to the rear plat­form with a 2" screw. Then turn the mo­tor­cy­cle up­side down, and fas­ten the plat­form and stand to the block with a 4" screw.

3 Po­si­tion the tire sup­ports be­tween the rock­ers, rest­ing on the wheels. Trans­fer the sup­port lo­ca­tions to the rock­ers. Re­move the mo­tor­cy­cle from the rock­ers, drill coun­ter­bored pi­lot holes, and at­tach the sup­ports with screws. Plug the holes and trim flush. 4 Ap­ply a fin­ish of your choice. We sprayed on three coats of Watco satin lac­quer, sand­ing be­tween coats with a 320-grit sand­ing sponge.

5 Reat­tach the mo­tor­cy­cle to the stand. Then add four screws through the sup­ports to the thick “tread” of the front and back wheels.

6 Now you’re ready for ti­tle, li­cense, and reg­is­tra­tion, and the open road!

Cut about 4" into the jig, and clamp it to the band­saw table. Us­ing one of the spacer (B) blanks as a guide, align the cen­ter of one edge with the teeth of the (stopped) blade. Use a 3∕8" brad-point drill bit to mark the pivot point on the jig. Re­move both from the band­saw, drill a 3∕8" hole in the jig where marked, and clamp it to the table again. Insert a 3∕8" dowel pivot pin and one of the blanks, and ro­tate the blank to cut it round. Re­peat for the re­main­ing spac­ers. Mark a sec­ond pivot point for the rims (A) and side­walls (C) and cut them to shape.

Rout be­tween the drilled holes by plung­ing the router bit 1∕4" into one hole, and then rout­ing coun­ter­clock­wise to the next hole. Lift the bit, lower an­other 1∕4", and re­peat un­til through. Re­peat for the other quad­rants.

Us­ing a jigsaw and 20-tpi ply­wood blade, cut from hole to hole to re­move the waste be­tween the spokes.

When rout­ing a spacer (B) or side­wall (C), se­cure the blank to a scrap piece of ply­wood with dou­ble-faced tape, in­clud­ing the cen­ter part. This en­sures the cen­ter will not move as you sep­a­rate it from the outer part.

Cus­tom-fit the off­set pivot base to your router, drilling coun­ter­bored holes for the mount­ing screws, a hole for the bit, and a hole for the pivot pin po­si­tioned to rout a 3” ra­dius.


With the rab­bets fac­ing up, stack the large fins (J) to­gether with glue only on the raised por­tions. Keep the edges and ends aligned. Re­peat for the small fins (K). Top the large-fin assem­bly with the mo­tor cover (I).

Glue the tank top (E), seat (G), and tank front/backs (F) to the frame, keep­ing the edges aligned with those of the frame. Glue the tank front/backs to the tank top and seat as well as to the frame.

Glue and clamp the mo­tor assem­bly to the frame, align­ing the block flush with the bot­tom edge of the frame and ex­tend­ing 1∕2" for­ward.

Glue and screw the mo­tor stack (I–K) to the block (H), keep­ing it cen­tered front-to-back and side-to-side.

Pro­duced by Bob Hunter with John Ol­son Project de­sign: John Ol­son Il­lus­tra­tions: Rox­anne Le­Moine, Lorna John­son

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